Creative projects & practitioners
It is interesting to look at professional surrealist photographer: Anna Hills work as a creative practitioner as she described herself to ‘turn ordinary photographs into the extraordinary experience that escapes the mundane’, however has also been seen to carry out a project that mocks the use of Adobe Photoshop. In the project ‘Beauty is only a pixel deep’ (fig. 7) Hill is addressing that within the cosmetics industry photo manipulation is overused and the amount of retouching within skin and blemish removal is unacceptable as it is not a clear reflection of reality. In interview Hill states that in this project her intention was to ‘make fun of a very specific industry that is infamous for overusing it’, an industry that glamourizes and embellishes reality even if the idea of hyperreality exists. The series of images in this project show Anna herself posing as the model, the before and after shots show the power of post-production photo manipulation and use a the cover of a magazine with slogans and phrases in the place of cover line and titles to mock the way in which advertisers use specific tools to manipulate the body. The aim of this project was to outline that photo manipulation can be used to manipulated people, however the responsibility lies with the industry that use and apply it to their products or work. The main purpose for this project was to inspire social change within advertising and there use of photo manipulation. In other projects Hill is seen to heavily manipulate images, she states when in interview that ‘I really don’t think Photoshop is evil. The application of photo manipulation seen in figure 8 has clearly been used to create a piece of art, ‘I think it is an amazing tool that makes it very easy to get visuals that you could not achieve in real life’, the images (fig. 8) visually explore surrealist art with photographic image, they create a fantasied world/ visual however there intention is not to sell a product or the perception of vanity, the intention of these images are to explore and celebrate the beauties and advances of technology, the emotion and the feeling of embracing abnormality in a basic ‘2-dimensional’ world (metaphorically). In essence if the human mind is capable of dreaming when one is unconscious there is nothing wrong with creating these images visually using advanced technology and photo manipulation. Photo manipulation is a form of art and should be used in a way that explores creativity. In essence Anna Hills perspective on photo manipulation (which is reflected through her work) is that it is being used to manipulate people in one industry however it is a tool that gives people what they want on all other platforms, as it allows for fantasy in the form of the unconscious mind to become reality through imagery.
Zilla Van Den
Looking at social media and photo manipulation Zilla Van Den is a good example of a graphic design practitioner that used photo manipulation to convince her entire family and friend’s network that she went travelling around South East Asia for 5 weeks. The project itself was headed ‘The power of photo manipulation’, although the set of images were not to a particularly high standard Zilla managed to pull of the entire experiment from the comforts of her own home and proved to all those on her social media page that she had been away travelling, using Photoshop to edit herself into South-East Asian situations and scenarios and distribute these images on the social media platform Facebook. The images shown in (figure 9.) are clearly not high resolution or overly manipulated images however they are a prime example of how the simple use of the magnetic lasso tool or the quick magic wand selection tool in Photoshop can help to create filtered images, although they may not be overly edited it is a great example of how the deposit of two or three images can portray a human to be on the other side of the world without being there physically. Once the five weeks had come to a end Zilla finally revealed to her friends and family that this was purely a experiment and she had been hiding out in her house, in the footage (fig 10.) of Zilla revealing her social experiment the reactions of her friends and family is priceless, the emotion, the deception and the observed response on the faces of all her friends and family prove that even moderate/bad photo manipulation can manipulate people. However looking at this from a more broader perspective photo manipulation in this scenario was used to delivery and give the audience (Zilla’s friends and family) what they wanted to see whilst she was ‘away’ from them, the fact that these images were posted on social-media and that her friends and family used this as gratification and reassurance of her presence and safety in her absence in a sense proves that photo manipulation essentially gives people what they want.
When considering photo manipulation and food photography it is important to understand that the use of photo manipulation in food photography has been dramatically reduced over the past two decades, despite audience speculation. Whilst assisting Angus McDonald in his studio (food photographer) it has become apparent from himself and Jo (Home Economist & Food stylist) that photo manipulation and retouching is hardly used whatsoever within food photography. In the image (fig. 11) we can see that there is a lot of emphasis on the composition of food, the elegant manner in which the double cream falls onto the mince pie, the way in which the muffin crumbles off towards the plate with perfect cubes of chocolate and the way in which the lemon cake in the background stands in identical shape to the lemon cake in the foreground is all down too prop-manipulation, as oppose to post-production photo manipulation. Each and every crumb, every drip of sauce or every perfect-shaped chocolate cube is down to food/prop-styling, it is perceived that these small yet crucial elements are down to photo manipulation and retouching however this is a huge misconception.